What Are Nootropics? Their Types, Functionality, Benefits

Medically reviewed by Maria Sarino, MD FACT CHECKED

Are you a busy student who wants to improve his or her mental health and memory? Or are you a busy professional who wants to seek a promotion?

Or you may be an adult who is suffering from dementia. No matter who you are, but if you want to bolster your brainpower then taking pills for this purpose could be a solution.

There are different pills or smart drugs known as nootropics that work as cognitive enhancers. Now let us take a look at what exactly Nootropics is?

Derived from an ancient Greek word, nootropics include different supplements or drugs that could help to ameliorate your cognitive function, specifically memory, executive functions, creativity, and motivation.

Initially, the word nootropics were used to refer to different chemicals that could perform a specific function. However, now nootropics refer to any natural or synthetic substance that could help to improve your mental skills.

Generally, there are three crucial categories of nootropics known as synthetic compounds, dietary supplements, and prescription drugs.

However, if a substance is a nootropic, then it must qualify for the following functions

  • First of all, a nootropic could help to bolster your memory and mental capabilities.
  • A nootropic might also protect your brain from any type of chemical damage.
  • It may not provide any toxic or stimulant effects to your body.
  • A nootropic may also be able to ameliorate the neuronal firing mechanisms.
  • Such a drug might even help your brain to function normally in adverse situations.

Here is a list of some of the best Nootropics that I have tried personally.

Types of Nootropics

Let me now discuss the two major types of nootropics known as prescription nootropics and over- the- counter nootropics or synthetic supplements.

Prescription Nootropics

As the name suggests, a prescription nootropic refers to a drug that is prescribed by a doctor to treat a particular medical condition.

This kind of drug could help to deal with a specific disease, like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The different types of prescription nootropics could include-

  • A drug known as memantine may help to treat the different symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Another stimulant could help to evade the symptoms related to narcolepsy. This stimulant is known as modafinil.
  • Methylphenidate might even combat the different symptoms related to ADHD and narcolepsy.
  • You may also opt for Adderall that has amphetamines which may help to deal with ADHD.

Hence, mentioned above are different prescription nootropics that you may consume only after taking a prescription from your doctor.

Since these are prescription medications, they could even show certain side effects on you, and thus, consulting a doctor before consuming them is very crucial.

The common side effects which you may face after consuming any prescription nootropics could include an increase in your heart rate, addiction, higher blood pressure, sleep disturbances, and insomnia along trouble related to your vision.

At the same time, another research also shows that the prescription nootropics you consume to ameliorate your brain health might enhance your susceptibility to impulsive behaviors.

For example, you may have an augmented risk towards sexual practices. All this shows how it is very crucial to consult your doctor at each stage before taking up the prescription nootropics to evade any side effects.

Natural & Synthetic Supplement

Another type of over-the-counter nootropics includes the natural or synthetic supplements that are used to ameliorate your mental health and capability.

Since these are natural supplements, they may not provide any side effects to your body if taken in a regulated amount.

  • Creatine

    Your brain requires a particular amount of energy that could help it to perform difficult tasks. So different supplements containing creatine might provide more ATP to your brain and thus assist in its functioning.

    Creatine might even augment the mitochondrial function and dopamine levels of your body. This amino acid is a powerful building block of protein, hence it is used by different athletes and could provide a positive impact on your mental ability.

    Here is the short term effect on memory discussed by the government papers.

  • Omega-three Fatty Acids

    Omega-three fatty acids are the different polyunsaturated fats that could be found in different fish oil supplements and even fatty fish. You may consume omega-3 fatty acids from your diet that could help to enhance your brain health and its functioning. The reason behind this is because omega-three fatty acids may help to develop, repair, and renew your brain cells and neurons.

    Besides this, omega-3 fatty acids could protect your brain against aging and improve the nervous system’s functioning. So you may consume different fish oil, algal oil, and krill oil to receive omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids may not provide any side effects. However, if you are already consuming certain medications then you may always consult your doctor because the fatty acids might affect blood clotting.

    More on it here.

  • Racetams

    Racetams include the different synthetic compounds that could regulate the neurotransmitters in your body. The different nootropic Racetams include Piracetam, aniracetam, pramiracetam, and phenylpiracetam.

    Piracetam is a synthetic nootropic that could help to bolster your mental performance. Its positive mental effects might help older adults as well as young people. It could help you to deal with dementia, mental impairment, and even dyslexia.

    Aniracetam is another type of nootropic that could enhance your brain function. It comes in the form of capsules and powders and may help to improve your concentration and memory. At the same time, it might help to treat dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

    However, there are no fixed dosages recommended for Racetams. So you could always consult your doctor regarding the dosages of Racetams.

    More about the same has been discussed here.

  • Caffeine

    As we all know, caffeine is a powerful stimulant that is consumed by a plethora of people.

    You may be drinking a regular cup of coffee or tea to bolster your mental health. This is because caffeine could help to enhance your alertness, concentration, and focus.

    However, at the same time, consuming caffeine in extreme amounts may not prove to be safe. According to the Food and Drug Administration, you may not consume more than 400MG of caffeine in a single day.

    This means you should not drink more than four to five cups of coffee in a single day. Not only this, but pregnant ladies may also evade high intakes of caffeine.

    On the other hand, this governmental article indicates that caffeine could be considered an indirect cognitive enhancer.

  • Ginkgo Biloba

    Being a crucial part of Chinese medicine for centuries, Ginkgo biloba could have numerous positive impacts on your brain as well as circulatory health problems. This ingredient is generally used as a supplement to support your brain health. You could use it in the form of tablets, capsules, or even in extracted form.

    The reason behind the bolstering of your mental health is because Ginkgo biloba has different antioxidants in them that could help you to get rid of the free radicals and molecules from your body.

    As you age, your body may not perform the functioning of getting rid of the free radicals. This could lead to memory loss by attacking your brain cell. So Ginkgo Biloba helps to avert this memory loss.

  • Rhodiola

    Being an adaptogen, Rhodiola could help to augment your mental capacity, energy, and stamina. It is also used as a medicinal plant in different countries like France, Greece, Sweden, Iceland, and Russia.

    The ingredient could help to ameliorate your memory, concentration, and learning power by regulating the neurotransmitters of your brain. Hence it could even have a positive impact on your mood.

    However, the appropriate dosage of Rhodiola could depend on a number of factors like age, health, and other conditions.

  • Panax ginseng

    Panax ginseng is a Mediterranean herb that is found in parts of Siberia and China. The roots of this herb have been used for different medicinal purposes.

    It could help to evade certain busy brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. At the same time, this ingredient could also help your brain after a stroke.

    However, you may consult a doctor before consuming Panax Ginseng if you are already consuming other medications. This is because this ingredient might interact with the other medications leading to certain side effects.

On the other hand, FDA has also issues warnings to some of the Nootropic companies.

  1. Peak Nootropics
  2. Pure Nootropics

Functioning of Nootropics

Before knowing the different benefits of nootropics, you should know how these substances function or provide you with the different cognitive benefits.

Generally, the nootropics work by affecting your cellular energy, brain waves, hormones, neurotransmitters, cerebral blood flow, cellular energy, and neuroplasticity. Let us have a look at the functioning of nootropics in detail.

The different aspects which the nootropics affect to function and improve your brain health are as follows.

  • Brain Waves

    Brain waves are one of the most important elements of your brain. Signaling between different brain cells is because of the electrical signals.

    The different categories of brain waves include Delta, Theta, beta, and alpha. Nootropics could help to ameliorate the intensity of the waves in your brain. Day, for example, oat straw could ameliorate your cognitive performance.

  • Brain Energy

    The brain uses most of the energy of your body. It uses 20% of the total energy consumption of your body. So if you feel stressed or fatigued mentally then this could be because your brain has lower energy. The primary source of energy for your brain is ATP or adenosine triphosphate.

    Hence, the different nootropics could help to augment the ATP levels in your body. Once the ATP levels are enhanced, it could help to deal with brain fog and mental fatigue. The different nootropics that could help to augment the ATP levels in your body include mushrooms, Vitamin B1, cordyceps, and ginseng.

  • Longevity Of The Brain Cells

    The major functioning of the nootropics is also because they could help to augment the longevity of your brain cells. Hence, the nootropics might assist the process of Neurogenesis. Some of these nootropics could include mushroom, L- Theanine, Taurine, etc.

    Other functions of nootropics that help to ameliorate your brain health include dealing with fatigue, improving cerebral blood flow, repairing the brain cells, and improving the brain signal.

Detailed working procedure is mentioned here when it comes to functioning of natural Nootropics.

Long Term Benefits Of Nootropics

The usage of nootropics may come with both long-term as well as short-term benefits. The different long-term brain health benefits of nootropics are explained below.

  • Nootropics could help to ameliorate your long-term memory.
  • They may even lead to an augmentation in your cognitive longevity while enhancing your stress resistance power.
  • Consuming nootropics might help to maintain your brain health and assist in its repair.
  • Nootropics also lead to a balance in your emotional levels and enhance your mitochondrial energy output.
    Short term benefits from nootropic usage
  • Nootropics could improve your memory and help.to deal with age-related memory loss.
  • At the same time, the short-term usage of nootropics may also heighten your energy levels. They might augment the blood flow to the brain and even optimize your mitochondrial energy
  • Another short-term benefit of nootropics usage is that they could enhance your mood and deal with stress, anxiety, and depression. The reason behind this is because nootropics could help to deal with low brain energy, improper blood circulation, poor stress resistance, and the unbalanced level of brain chemicals.
  • Nootropics affect the functioning of your brain related to creativity and augment your focus, mood, and concentration levels.

Probable Side Effects

Detailed cases on side effects have been discussed by the governmental organization here. You might want to check out the same before consuming any Nootropics.

Final Words On Nootropics Overview

Thus, there are a number of methods that could help to improve your brainpower. One such method is to use nootropics.

But before using nootropics, you have to decide whether you will use synthetic or natural nootropics.
No matter which nootropic you choose, you need to consume it in regulated amounts.

This is because every medication could have a potential side effect if taken within extreme limits. Some of the natural nootropics might even react with your prior medications.

So it is always safe to consult your doctor before consuming the nootropics. You should also read the supplement bottle labels to understand the other ingredients present in the nootropics.

Knowing about the different ingredients could help you to identify whether the particular supplement is suitable for you or not.

Another factor to consider while consuming nootropics is whether your product is water-soluble or fat-soluble. The water-soluble nootropics could be easily dissolved in your body.

On the other hand, fat-soluble nootropics require oil to dissolve in your body. Once they dissolve in oil they could cross the blood-brain barrier and help in improving your brain health.

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